I want to talk about therapy today. I have gotten so many questions over the years about therapy! I’ve referenced it in the past and that it’s helpful, but beyond that I want to discuss how it has impacted my life and what it has done for me.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Therapy has helped me better understand myself and how my mind works. It has been a beacon of light in some of my darkest days dealing with anxiety and depression. It has armed me with the knowledge and tools to think and act in a way that’s best for my mental health and self interest.
I feel like sometimes you “need” therapy in your life more than others. And that’s totally OK! You don’t have to make a lifelong commitment. Everyone seeks out therapy for different reasons and it can be short term or longer term depending on your needs.
Some sessions you spend talking about yourself. Other sessions you spend talking about your relationships. Throughout the years, I think I have learned some good coping mechanisms for navigating the relationships in my life. My therapist follows my lead and allows me decide what we talk about and why. She’s there as a guide to clarify and support.
I am currently leaning on therapy more these days. I have a lot of anticipation around my upcoming ERA and embryo transfer. I am also in the process of deciding what to do about going off of medication in preparation for a potential pregnancy. Online school just started for K and that’s an entire world of unknowns in and of itself.
There Are No Shortcuts
Therapy is a process. I believe that if you put the time and effort in, you will see results. For me, it took time to really feel like it was paying off. There are definitely ups and downs along the way. Some sessions felt life changing and others felt like very little had been accomplished. At times, I questioned why I continued it and what benefit it was to me.
I spent a long time wishing there was a quick fix for my anxiety and feel like I’ve tried everything. But living with generalized anxiety disorder means that anxiety is a part of my life. I try my best to manage it. Just because I am not talking about it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. On the good/better/”normal” days I’m not overthinking or sweating the small stuff. On the harder days I have to go back to my breath work and the basics of self care.
Ultimately, I continue with therapy because it helps me cope with the changes and transitions of my life. I feel like I have been experiencing some really interesting breakthroughs lately. I can tell I am better at coping and dealing with new stressors that pop up in my life. I am also getting better at identifying destructive thought patterns. It has done positive things for my self esteem and has helped me to be more comfortable and “at home” with myself.
Cognitive Behavioral Thinking
Lately, I’ve been delving more into automatic thought processes and irrational thinking. I studied this a bit years ago when I did some work with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) with a trained CBT therapist. CBT helped me to do things like drive on the freeway again and deal with my overwhelming social anxiety. It felt almost robotic to me in its practice, but the exposure therapy worked. For me, it was helpful in certain practical situations, but it wasn’t a cure all.
Recently I have been examining how powerful my thoughts really are, and how I almost always seem to flash back to a barrage of negative thoughts and feelings from the past when I am feeling insecure and unsure. This almost immediately signals my anxiety to run wild. It isn’t a conscious process, because it takes me awhile to figure out I’m doing it. It’s like my brain is short circuited to go right for those thoughts that trigger all the uncomfortable feelings.
When it comes to infertility and IVF, I have an entire mental library full of negative mental chatter and traumatic flashbacks to choose from. Recently, I’ve tried to be more cognizant of the dark places that my mind immediately tries to access. I try and catch the thoughts and slow them down, because they are running a mile a minute. I don’t necessarily replace the thoughts, but I question them. Is this a worry? Is this rational? Is this productive or helpful? Is this making me feel like shit?
Then I do some deep breathing.
This awareness coupled with daily breath work meditation has been so helpful during these stressful times. I am my best self when I am utilizing a combination of therapy, medication, meditation, and exercise. It sounds like a lot, but it becomes a way of life.
Have you tried therapy? Has it helped you?